by Connie Auran
We are a group of fun-loving senior citizens who graduated from Rolla (ND) High School in the 1940s and ’50s. We gather for three-day Super Bowl parties every year. We started in California, but continue in Fayetteville, Arkansas, because I (the hostess) moved. Some of us have been together since kindergarten.
The idea for a three-day Super Bowl party occurred to me when I became a widow and was still living in Southern California. I was married for 42 years, and after my husband’s death I could not decide what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was afraid my friends would abandon me because I was single, so I entertained at the drop of a hat. It worked. Someone always owed me.
Rolla had a population of 1,000. Several high school friends were living in Arizona. I found another I had not seen for 25 years in San Diego. I called her. She mentioned a friend who was living in San Francisco. I started calling everyone and to my surprise not only were they all very enthusiastic about a party but everyone mentioned another name they thought I should call. I called people in Minnesota, Montana, Texas and, of course, North Dakota.
Where to draw the line suddenly became an issue. My class of 1949 had only 27 graduates so I knew we couldn’t restrict it to just our class. I decided if you graduated from Rolla High School you could come to the party. I added Iowa, Florida, Washington and New Mexico. My invitation list started out with about fifteen couples. Much to my surprise 75% replied yes.
This started in 1996. I have had the party every year since and it keeps surprising me. I’ve received several letters and phone calls from Rolla graduates wanting to know what to do to get an invitation. We have had as many as 40, but numbers change because of our age; unfortunately we lose a couple of people every year. Most participants come back once they’ve attended one party.
We have a different theme each year. We’ve had a Mexican Hat Dance, Country Western, The French Connection, 1949 Rolla High School Prom (complete with the original menu and prom dresses), Mardi Gras, The Academy Awards, Arkansas Hillbillies, and New York, New York. Every year we have our own (over 60) Broadway Wannabees.
Everyone flies in on Friday, checks into their accommodations, and the party starts at my home that night with cocktails and dinner and homegrown talent or a high school pep rally. For Saturday, I prepare a list of local fun places and activities or they can just sleep in. Saturday night is the big night, combining professional and homegrown talent. We have had everything from comedian Anita Maltin from England to Jed Clampit (Mr. Arkansas).
Sunday finds everyone back here for brunch. Then it’s game time and a chili supper. The guests usually fly out on Monday, but many come early and stay late. The group gets larger every year and younger people are coming. We plan to continue till we are too old or too pooped to party!